Swedish multi-talented artist Ragnar Persson has been featured in VICE like a million times. He once shot a cover for our annual Photo Issue, and pretty much all VICE staff in northern Europe have a sticker or a bunch of pins with his artwork on them. This is because he is one of the best artists we know, and his style appears so effortless and perfectly scratchy, as if he's not actually trying.
His work is very characteristic for being grim and a bit creepy. But he always seems to give his characters a calmingly familiar glint in their eyes, so despite the darkness, you can't help to put a smile on your face when looking at them. Anyway, we wanted to chat a bit with Ragnar as his exhibition Glåmiga Dagar/Svarta Nätter [Gloomy Days/Black Nights] starts in Stockholm today. Plus, it's been a while since we last heard from him, so we figured it was time to catch up.
VICE: Hi Ragnar, tell me about the Gloomy Days exhibition, can we expect something different compared to your previous ones?
Ragnar Persson: I don't know. This one might offer a bit more structure, maybe it's a bit more grown-up. No wait, that’s a bad word…
In what way could it possibly be more grown-up?
I've been working with this show for the past few months, and well, Sweden is pretty depressing in January, so maybe it’s got something to do with that. It’s just more depressing and there are some darker images than what I've done before. Do you have a personal favourite among this new stuff?
I kind of based the black walls of the show on the Berlin Wall or something similar to that. This will divide the room. I mean it’s not really a ‘piece’ but I like the wall.
That sounds pretty dark. I’ve heard that you’re really into plants these days, what's up with that?
Yeah, there are actually two really big pieces in this show that consist of plants. They’re some sort of water surface plants, like the ones that grow deep in the dark. I don't know what type they are but the idea was like, a garden at night. So I put the focus on seaweed kinds of plants that are growing deep down in the ocean or something. So are the plants taking up space from human subjects that you've had lots of in your past work?
Well, there are a few humans, but not as many as before. There’s a series of screen prints with some humans but only a couple of my sketches have people in them, really.
Are you working with any new or different materials these days?
In this exhibition, there aren't that many drawings. There are more collages and screen prints. I also printed a box. So yeah, there are a bunch of prints. When I come to think of it, it’s actually a pretty trashy show. So it isn’t grown-up at all. When you talked to us back in 2011, you said it'd be a dream to just draw and drink all day and get paid for that. Has that dream come true yet?
Haha. That’s still the ultimate dream… I wish I could just listen to music all day and draw because that makes me the happiest. However, I don’t consider this work though… going to work is boring, so this isn't work at all. But it's still a dream. So you don’t feel like being an artist is your career at this point?
No, that’s like, a really grown-up thing. But wait, do you ever want to become a grown-up?
Yes, of course! I’m way too old as it is. Ragnar Persson’s Glåmiga Dagar/Svarta Nätter [Gloomy Days/Black Nights] opens Friday, April 12, 18-22 PM at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm, Sweden, and runs until May 10.
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